Briton James Nash led the race at the end of the ninth hour of the 2014 Total 24 Hours of Spa as the first racing in the dark ran mercifully free of the heavy accidents that had categorised the earlier hours of the race.
Without the constant interruption of the race was allowed to settle into a rhythm allowing the chief contenders for the race win to establish themselves in the top positions over successive stints.
The #3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi was among them, despite having to serve two drive throughs as the team sought to serve penance for their cheeky pit visit for service under the red flag. The first drive through failed to satisfy the need for punishment, served, as it was, under the safety car that immediately followed the red flag. A second drive through under green proved enough to pay the price for their opportunistic tactic.
Still, however, the car was one of those that led on a regular basis along with their teammates in the #1 entry, Sainteloc Racing’s #26 Audi and the #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS Z4 GT3 which was, in the hands of Dirk Werner, hunting down Nash as the clocks ticked up to 1:30am local time.
The #77 had been moving forward through the Audi phalanx at the front of the race, Luhr picking his past Andre Lotterer to take third, a switch that Werner was able to consolidate to hold onto third.
Also among the lead group were the #2 Team WRT Audi of the 24 Hours of Le Mans winners and the #86 HTP Motorsport Mercedes crew.
Their stablemates in the #84 lost ground after Bernd Schneider went off at Les Combes, the time lost at the far end of the Kemmel Straight, compounded by a slow pitstop as he handed over to Nico Verdonck, the car falling from the edge of the top ten down to 18th before starting to climb back up the order. Climbing back up the order was exactly was the #99 ART Grand Prix McLaren had done after Kevin Estre lost time early in the race with a minor electrical problem.
Shadowed by the other ART MP4-12C (also fighting up the order) Estre had just broken into the top ten when he started to drop down the order again, stopping out on track with a problem that was end his race. Also rising through the standings was the #7 M-Sport Bentley, Guy Smith bringing the car back into the foot of the top 20.
The Pro-Am Cup through the hours up to 1:30am were dominated by the Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari, chiefly driven by Andrea Montermini. The #90 car, in the hands of Andrea Rizzoli at the end of the ninth hour, was 50 seconds ahead of the #53 AF Corse entry. British teams Ecurie Ecosse and MP Motorsport AMR, both previous leaders of the class were in fourth and fifth respectively.
Total 24 Hours of Spa class standings after 9 hours:
1 – #3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (Mies/Nash/Stippler)
2 – #77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS (Luhr/Palttala/Werner)
3 – #26 Sainteloc Racing (Guilvert/Ortelli/Sandstrom)
4 – #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer)
5 – #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (Rast/Vanthoor/Winkelhock)
1 – #90 Scuderia Villoba Corse (Castellacci/Gai/Montermini/Rizzoli)
2 – #53 AF Corse (Bertolini/Cioci/Hommerson/Machiels)
3 – #12 TDS Racing (Catsburg/Hassid/Klingman/Thiriet)
1 – #42 Sport Garage (Bontempelli/Caccia/Van Hove/Vannelet)
2 – #228 Delahaye Racing (Al Azhari/Bordet/Lemeret/Viron)
3 – #51 AF Corse (Guedes/Mann/Mezard/Talkanista)